Category Archives: In Court

Managing agent fined £40,000 following fire death

London Fire Brigade have reported on a recent prosecution of a managing agent.  This case highlights the need for effective fire safety management, suitable fire risk assessments and for corrective and remedial measures identified to be implemented.

Parc Properties Management Ltd (PPML), the managing agent for Meridian Place Management Ltd, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Monday 19 March 2018, after pleading guilty to two offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) 2005.

Sophie Rosser, 23, died following the fire which broke out at Meridian Place, E14, at around 0130 on August 26, 2012. Miss Rosser, who lived on the fifth floor of the building with her partner and flat mate, was found unconscious on the fourth floor of the building.

Ms Rosser was found by by crews wearing breathing apparatus who carried her from the building. She was then treated at the scene by London’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) before being taken to hospital where she sadly later died.

Lee Drawbridge, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “Building owners have a responsibility to ensure regular fire risk assessments are undertaken which will help ensure that buildings have appropriate  fire protective measures in place.

“There were serious fire safety breaches in this block of flats which resulted in the fire quickly spreading to other parts of the building.

“While London Fire Brigade want to work with building owners to help them meet their safety responsibilities, where we find breaches of those responsibilities, we will do all we can to ensure the relevant agencies and individuals are prosecuted.”

The Brigade’s fire safety team carried out an inspection of the building following the fire and found a number of serious fire safety failures. Breaches of the RRO included:

  • Failing to take general fire precautions to ensure the premises is safe
  • Failing to have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Failure to monitor and review the preventive and protective measures
  • The building was not properly equipped with firefighting equipment nor was it correctly maintained
  • The fire detection system was not properly maintained

An enforcement notice was issued to the leasehold owners of the building and the managing agents for the fire safety failings.

£160,000 fine for injury to member of the public

Westminster Magistrates Court heard that, on 20 March 2017, the injured person was walking along Upper Street in Islington, London when he was hit on the head by the clip. He sustained numerous cuts to his head and face, a broken nose and a severely bruised skull. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the firm over the incident.

Alandale Plant & Scaffolding Ltd of Beckenham, Kent pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,059.08 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sarah Robinson commented: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“On this occasion the company did not follow their own risk assessments or method statements.”

Scaffolder sentenced over unsafe working at height

A 28-year­-old scaffolder has been sentenced after working at height without suitable and sufficient safety measures in place.
Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 June 2017, Mr Terrance Murray was witnessed erecting scaffold in an unsafe manner by a concerned member of the public. Photographs were taken of Mr Murray standing on top of the scaffold in Quay Street, Manchester, with no edge protection and no harness attached to any part of the scaffold or building.

The fall height was estimated at between 13 and 18 metres. If he had fallen from this height into the concrete deck of the car park below there is a high probability that he would have sustained fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Murray’s employers had taken reasonable steps to avoid working unsafely at height. Mr Murray was well trained and experienced, and had the correct equipment available to him in order to work safely. He acted alone against his better interest and training to work without edge protection and safety measures in place. Mr Murray was also accompanied by a trainee scaffolder at the time and so was setting an unsafe example.

Mr Terrance Murray of Largs Road, Blackburn pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for one year and 100 hours of community service. Mr Murray was also ordered to pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £115.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Seve Gomez-Aspron said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and should be taken seriously.

“This case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to erect scaffolding in a safe manner, which does not cause risk to members of the public and workers using the scaffold. It also serves to remind employees that they have a duty to look after themselves.”

Care home operator fined after death of vulnerable patient

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard how, on 15 February 2015 Michael Ibbetson, a resident of a care home operated by Akari Care Ltd was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs leading to the cellar with his wheelchair on top of him. Mr Ibbetson, who had one leg amputated at the knee, was able to operate his wheelchair alone and had days of confusion. He was last seen by the nurse on shift going into a lift by the cellar door to go to his room on the first floor.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although the door to the cellar had a key pad latch and was fitted with a self-closing device, it opened onto the stairs so that the first step was directly behind the door. The handrail was fitted in such a way that it was not possible to have a good handhold along its length, and there was no hand rail at the top of the stairs due to the door opening. The door was used daily by kitchen staff and the maintenance man. The investigation also found that Akari Care Ltd’s had not produced a risk assessment for access and use of the cellar and therefore had did not take account of the fact that the door opened inwards directly onto the stairs without a sufficient landing area.

Akari Care Limited of Albion Street, Leeds, was found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £41,997.48.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Shaw said: “This tragic incident could have been avoided.

“It is unlikely Mr Ibbetson would have known the key pad number to the door, therefore the door cannot have been properly closed and locked.

“In this case, the risk assessment should have identified the potential risks to both Akari Care employees, visitors and residents of a door which opened inward without sufficient landing.”

£200,000 fine for work at height breaches

A London based construction company, Pride Way Development Ltd, has today been fined for repeatedly failing to manage and control fall from height risks.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, after concerns were raised by both workers and members of the public, HSE inspectors made a number of visits during 2016/17 to sites where Pride Way Development Limited had been appointed the principal contractor. On these visits, inspectors identified a number of serious health and safety failings, including unsafe work at height.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Pride Way had repeatedly breached health and safety legislation which gave rise to significant risk of harm, with four notices served for unsafe work at height in the past five years. A HSE intervention in 2013 resulted in the company drawing up a comprehensive work at height policy which subsequent inspections showed was being ignored.

Pride Way Development Ltd of Harrow Road, Wembley, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,499.40

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work fatalities in this country, and the risks associated with working at height are well-known.

“Pride Way has been repeatedly warned by HSE about the need to manage risks, and have today been held to account for failing to take adequate action to protect the health and safety of its workers.”

Local authority fined after social workers assaulted

A local authority has been fined after two of its social workers were assaulted on a home visit by the mother of a vulnerable child they were visiting.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 21 July 2015, two social workers employed by London Borough of Brent visited the home of a vulnerable child to carry out a child safety plan assessment. While note-taking, both social workers were struck over the head with a metal object by the mother, resulting in one of them being knocked temporarily unconscious. While both received serious wounds to the head, the social worker knocked unconscious was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the local authority failed to follow its corporate lone working policy or violence and aggression guidance. No risk assessment was completed and staff were not trained accordingly. London Borough of Brent also failed to add an aggression marker to make the social workers aware of the hazards posed by the mother who was known to have a history of violence.

London Borough of Brent of Brent Civic Centre, Wembley pleaded guilty of breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, section 2(1) and were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,918.88

After the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Fry commented: “Violent and aggressive incidents are the third biggest cause of injuries reported to HSE from the health and social care sector.

“The local authority in this case failed to adhere to and implement its own systems and procedure for the management of lone working and violence and aggression against social workers. This risk could have been reduced in a number of ways including carrying out the visit in a controlled environment, such as the local social workers’ office.”

 

Suspended Prison Sentence for Fire Safety Breaches

A Bethnal Green guest house owner who removed the staircase from his property has been hit with a £250,000 fine and a six month suspended prison sentence after being successfully prosecuted by London Fire Brigade.

Fire officers described the ‘City View Guest House’ on Cambridge Heath Road E2 as a ‘potential death trap.’

Mehmood Butt (55) of Mile End was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (17 November) after pleading guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  In addition to the fine and suspended prison sentence he was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £14,200 and given a nightly curfew of 21:00 – 06:00.

Mr Butt was converting the building into guest house accommodation from a house of multiple occupation. This involved removing the internal staircase to put in a lift and fitting an open external staircase to the rear of the property which would provide the only emergency means of escape.

The work went ahead despite a Building Regulations application for the refurbishment being turned down due to safety concerns by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Following a visit to the site by building inspectors in March 2014 the Brigade was alerted and fire safety officers visited the premises and issued an Enforcement Notice requiring the inadequate emergency stairs and other fire safety defects to be addressed

Unsecured swing barrier causes severe injuries and leads to fine and costs

A West Yorkshire sports club has been fined after a postal worker sustained severe injuries when a swing barrier shattered the windscreen of his van and struck him in the face.

According to information entered in the court hearing, on the morning of the incident a member of the club had not secured the barrier to its latch after opening it and that the failure had been an isolated occurrence. It was told this was an unusual case involving a “one-off individual failure” .

The court also heard that since the incident a notice about locking the barrier in position had been put on the gate and a metal column had been welded to the barrier to stop it penetrating the windscreen of any other vehicle.

The club admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and after considering the legal submissions and sentencing guidelines Judge Burn fined the club £140 for the offence.
The Judge commented that it was clear that on all other occasions the barrier had been secured and it was not a case involving an unsafe system.

“It seems to me that a fine in those circumstances is unavoidable as a disposal in this case,” he concluded.

The judge had been asked to order investigation and legal costs totalling about £4,000, but after hearing about the club’s financial position he decided to make them pay just £146 with a victim surcharge of £14.

“This a not for profit club which is an essential part of the fabric of the community in which it operates, run by volunteers for people of all ages,” he pointed out.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “This was a very unfortunate incident that caused serious injury and could have had potentially fatal consequences. We would urge any business that has a similar swing gate on their premises to check and ensure it is being operated safely.”

£1m fine after self employed contractor dies following ladder fall

A Hull-based bakery has been ordered to pay a fine of £1million after a self-employed contractor died when he fell from a stepladder.

HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in Great Britain, the risks associated with working at height are well known.

Work at height regulations require that all work at height is properly planned and appropriate access is provided. If Greencore had carried this out this death could have been prevented.”

Hull Crown Court was told that the worker was contracted to complete electrical work at Greencore Grocery Ltd. The worker was wiring a motor situated above a machine whilst standing on a stepladder. The company agreed this work activity could be completed using a stepladder, which it had provided. The employee fell from the stepladder and suffered fatal injuries.

The HSE investigation found that the company failed to properly plan the activity from the beginning including access arrangements to be made for installation of motors to use to carry out this work activity.

Greencore Grocery Ltd of Apex Park, Amsterdam Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

The company was fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.

Suspended prison sentence for landlord

A Cornish landlord has been fined after failing to maintain gas appliances at his rental properties.

Truro Crown Court heard how gas appliances in the properties went unmaintained and were not inspected by a registered Gas Safe Register engineer.

An investigation by the HSE found the landlord failed to obtain Landlord Gas Safety Records (LGSR) after May 2014. It was also found that the appliances had not been serviced for at least four years.

The defendant pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 36 (2)(a) and 36 (3)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and Regulation 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 He has been given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 24 months, fined £5,000, and ordered to pay costs of £5,524.